And so the resistance kicks in. The resistance goes to meetings and plays devil’s advocate (I didn’t know the devil needed an advocate.)
The resistance finds excuses, it makes tasks needlessly complex (or oversimplifies so much that you fail). The resistance uses phrases like, “see, I told you it would never work.” The resistance demands that you study the issue more, or grab a Diet Coke, or go visit those friends who are in from out of town and you won’t be able to see them unless you go right now. The resistance invented yak shaving. The resistance is also responsible for giving you an even better idea just before you finish this one… in fact, the resistance will do anything it can to prevent you from shipping.
Why do little companies get so much more out the door than big ones? Because big companies have committees, groups of people designed to protect the status quo, to prevent failure, to avoid catastrophe. The committee is made up of humans, each of whom is battling her own version of the resistance. “If this ships, my boss will see it, and I might get fired.” “If this ships, a kid might use it, cut of his finger and I might get in trouble.” “If this ships, people are going to think it was my idea, and there’s a chance, just a chance, they might hate it.” Most of all, “if this ships, people might laugh at me.” And so the committee shoots for the lowest common denominator of safety, a product or service or idea that arouses no one’s lizard brain. Which means mediocre. Or late. Or both.
The iPod came from two people, Steve and Jonathan. The Zune came from 250. Which product would you rather own?
The resistance sabotaged my work for years. It pushed me to focus on average topics, delivered in a blameless way, because that felt safer.
So, when others were starting search engines or revolutionizing the online world, I was busy creating sort of ordinary books for sort of ordinary editors who were looking for the next small thing. And no one scolded me for doing this. No one looked at my sort of average work and called me out on it, because they were fighting the very same resistance as I was. It’s surprisingly easy to get through life and make a career out of being average… the resistance would prefer it if you did.